There's a new twist in the widespread theft of catalytic convertors in North Central Washington.

Soap Lake Police are reporting an uptick in the crime with individuals using spotters with radios to see cars or people coming while a theft is taking place.

Washington had the biggest spike of catalytic convertor thefts in the country between 2019 and 2020, and saw another massive increase in the next year. The number come from a report by background check company BeenVerified.

The phenomenon is linked to precious metals contained in catalytic convertors that have skyrocketed in value during the past two years.

According to BeenVerified, "the theft of a catalytic converter can be done in minutes by culprits, who then resell to recyclers for between $50 and $250 per part."

The cost to repair is between $1,000 and $3,000, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

A bill meant to discourage converter thefts was signed into law by Governor Inslee in March, although it does not stiffen penalties for the crime.